YORKSHIRE WOLDS CYCLE CHALLENGE
We had a new mantra this year – “well, we did it last time in atrocious weather, so we can easily do it again”. I say mantra but it was more of an excuse for not getting out training. We had been ever so well behaved the previous year and ate up the miles every weekend, preparing our bottoms for the onslaught to come. Not this year, oh no! Excuse after excuse came out. “It’s a bit drizzly; blimey the wind has got up; really should re-grout the bathroom tiles” etc etc, pathetically etc.
Add to this lack of training (willpower, determination, call it what you will, but I now accept it to be dressed up apathy), my decision to get a new bike which only arrived two days prior to the ride. Another excellent excuse for why I might be slower, weaker, moanier than last year too. “I haven’t got used to the frame, saddle, gears, BELL” Listen to yourself woman. Enough of me moaning about my moaning.
Saturday morning came, rather too quickly after the previous night’s pasta fest if you ask me, but hey who doesn’t use a mammoth physical feat to chow down on a huge bowl of penne!
Bikes out of car, registration completed, helmets on, nothing could stop us now except our mate having forgotten the front wheel to his bike. I am mentioning no names, but he knows who he is and I am for ever indebted to this goliath lack of preparation as I was laughing so deeply I forgot the torture ahead, even for a short time. So, mate now back with front wheel and we really were ready for the off.
I have never been a fan of Settrington bank in a car, having once stalled there during a particularly sadistic driving lesson administered by my Mum who thought I could do with being brought down a peg or two – it worked – unlike the handbrake. Settrington bank on a bike? As memories came flooding back of pushing up in the rain last year, I dug deep and tried my very hardest to stay in the saddle this time, and I nearly managed it, but as a wave of nausea swept through me, my pertinacious spirit departed and I got off and pushed –I had after all got considerably further than the previous year. Hubby and two-wheeled mate did manage it though and some sort of vicarious pride took away the nausea as I made sure the masses of pushers still battling behind, knew I was with these guys!
In the smug knowledge that the worst part of day one was over, we could settle into the saddle and really enjoy ourselves. And enjoy ourselves we did. I would go as far as to say that we had an uproarious, hilarious time. Perhaps we were not getting enough oxygen to the brain (or too much? Hey, I am not a doctor!), but everything seemed outrageously comical and we even took to having little sing songs when not flying down hills or solidly pedalling up them. The world and its wife were discussed and I rather feel that if hubby was put in charge of world economics, mate in charge of renewing a British manufacturing industry and myself looking after resolving world conflict, famine and climate change, our global outlook would be considerably rosier. Ban Ki-moon pay attention.
To cut a long story short –it was a glorious day, which turned into a glorious evening, helped greatly by the soothing fingers of the marvellous on-site masseuse (note to organisers – yes please next year), great banter and camaraderie. An excellent night’s sleep, only slightly marred by the man in the next tent’s nocturnal adenoidal issues, and up and at ‘em the next day.
Hutton Cranswick Sports Centre were seemingly blighted by electrical outages reminiscent of a holiday I once took in Turkey where the electricity only came on between 3am and 6am and always joined forces with the water to take umbrage at someone wanting to actually have a hot shower – who did we think we were? Practicalities aside, breakfast was managed and the staff’s sunny and kind attitude helped us overlook pretty much everything (unlike my Turkey experience where lots of shrugging of shoulders and “well what did you expect for a holiday that cost £6.20 including ouzo” rather made matters worse).
Small drama when we realized that we had packed away the rather soggy tent with the bike lock keys still inside. Mate really laughed at that one, until he realised we had locked our bike to his – ha! Retrieved bikes and off again, into the great undulating hills of the Wolds. Undulating? Undulating? If that isn’t a euphemism for pretty brutal, fairly long and “here comes another”, I do not know what it. That said, the sun was shining and the villages were beautifully bedecked with duck ponds that would make a Conservative MP weep in envy. The wind was a bit of an issue as it seemed to enjoy turning as we did, resulting in a headwind for, well to be honest, pretty much the whole day. However, we were not deterred (or detoured for that matter – unlike last year when getting lost became a new personal pastime), and carried on laughing and singing and putting the world to rights, straight into Thixendale. What a wonderful sight is Thixendale on a nice day, and to boot, the village hall was selling cake, so hubby very happy. Nice long drag (misnomer) out of Thixendale and several more (quite unnecessary in my opinion) hills before the realisation that we were almost back. We had made it. Bottoms a little sore, legs pretty fed up with going round and round and shoulders screaming at me to drop them – but back.
Homeward bound we allowed ourselves rather smug smiles and self-congratulatory thoughts which lasted all the way home until one of us had to go and spoil the magic by saying “we really should do more training for next year”. But what about the drizzle and the wind and I am sure that grouting isn’t going to last another year.
As a volunteer for RSF, I felt it would be a great way to celebrate the work they do by taking part in the 2011 Vion Yorkshire Wolds Challenge. As I like to spread the joy, I insisted my husband Greg did it too. We were, at best, fair weather, bimble cyclists so knew that this really was going to be a challenge and set about preparing for it accordingly. Preparation comes in all shapes and sizes and ours was rather a blob shaped mass of apathy for quite some time, until the fear and reality hit. Six weeks to go and we had done, at most, 20 miles in one day – stopped for a picnic, admired the countryside and read our books by the river – all would be well I was sure. It was quite a shock when we really got down to 40 miles a day training, but we were soon amazed at how quickly that morphed into 50 miles and then 60. We punished ourselves with some steep hills and braved rain and wind. We were ready, and thank goodness we had done all weather training because we really needed it. All this time, friends and family are putting their names down on our sponsorship form and giving us extra motivation that really helped.
The weather report for the ride weekend was dire and it did not disappoint. We were soaked to the skin within half an hour and after the first hour, I really did start to wonder what on earth I had got us both into as we stopped to empty our shoes of rain and for Greg to take his glasses off – useless things in the rain we have discovered. Then something remarkable happened – we became exhilarated. We are neither of us sports people and have only heard of ‘hitting the wall’, and ‘being in the zone’, but we could begin to understand what all that sports psychology actually means. By the time we had done 60 miles we were fairly euphoric and it was almost a disappointment to reach camp 15 miles later. That soon wore off when we received the most wonderful welcome from the good folk of Hutton Cranswick Sports’ Centre. The atmosphere just got better and better throughout the evening as we were treated to a fabulous BBQ and live entertainment. The best part was reliving all the scary and hilarious moments of the day with each other. The weather was kind from the moment we arrived at ‘base camp’ and the next morning was great too.
Day 2 was equally exhilarating (and we even managed 20 miles rain free) as we cycled through beautiful countryside, digging deep up the bigger hills and generally motivating and being motivated by the other riders. The ‘finishing line’ was a welcome sight I must say, but it was worth all the effort.
I am already looking forward to next year, in particular the training and feeling so much fitter and healthier; the raising money for this amazing charity; the camaraderie and most of all the sense of self achievement.
Our top tips:
- Start training early
- Get out in all weathers
- Keep your bike in good condition
- Take spare shoes for the second day
- Eat and drink lots! (great excuse)
- Buddy up and ride with someone if you can.
Last weekend, six of us undertook the Yorkshire Wolds Cycle route - this is our story...
Saturday 16th July 2011
Arriving at Norton College at the unearthly hour of 7.15am, any anxieties about the challenge ahead were soon forgotten as I was lulled from the warmth of my car by a bacon buttie made by fellow Inntraveller Beccy. Overnight bags and camping gear were swiftly tagged and deposited in the Vion white van as I also took advantage of the coffee and flapjack on offer at the college; I reckoned the more ‘carbs’ the better at this stage!
The local paparazzi were out in force and after a few obligatory smiles and poses, we were ready for the off, just as the heavens opened. Perfect timing! Lycra-clad, waterproofed and undeterred by the forecast of torrential downpours the 6 intrepid Inntravellers commenced the 146 mile Yorkshire Wolds cycle route and promptly missed the first left turn after the college (some trusty Inntravel route notes wouldn't have gone amiss here!)
Before we even had chance to get warmed up we were confronted by Settrington bank, which quickly sorted the men from the boys! Chris and Pete shot off up the hill in some kind of frenzied 'green jersey' sprint! I took a more leisurely approach, but there was no time to get our breath back before the tough, steep climb up Duggleby Hill then on to Sledmere in the rain! I managed to keep up with Tess as far as Weaverthorpe, puffing and panting as she calmly chatted and cycled with ease.
Eventually, she cycled off into the distance, leaving me on my own as I reached the check-in point at Bempton, via Hunmanby. Then, it was on to Sewerby where I was greeted by a bracing sea breeze on the lovely coastal path into Bridlington. It was 2pm and time to stop for lunch - I was hungry and tired but grateful, at least, that I’d made a last-minute investment in decent waterproofs!
After lunch, the sun came out and I met up with a lovely bunch from Market Weighton who were doing the same ride. The friendly banter was a pleasant distraction from pushing the pedals and in no time at all we reached our overnight stop at Hutton Cranswick. The warm welcome back made the 75 miles – and 6 hours and 30 minutes in the saddle – seem worthwhile. Warm evening sunshine, a sumptuous barbecue, live entertainment, free flowing Wold Top beer and some delicious flapjack made the evening a very pleasant one indeed.
Sunday 17th July 2011
Full English consumed, tents packed away, lubrication applied and water bottles refilled it was time to get back on two wheels! Any thoughts of aching limbs or soreness had to be dismissed as we eased ourselves back onto our saddles; Ouch!
A beautiful sunny morning awaited us as we began our exploration of some of East Yorkshire’s most beautiful and undiscovered parts, including Kilnwick, South Dalton and Etton. The six Inntravellers decided to stick together initially in the name of team building and bonding; we were also joined by Graham, who was responsible for mechanical support and First Aid on the ride.
We approached Beverley to the mighty toll of the Minster bells and headed straight for the Westwood where another Inntravel colleague Carole awaited our arrival, laden with Lucozade and the ubiquitous flapjack! At this point seven became six as Michelle opted for a more leisurely pace and continued bravely along the route ‘riding solo’. After Walkington, we ventured on to Newbald and a gentle off-road section to Goodmanham. Spirits were high, with the boys sprinting for the village signs and plenty of friendly joking and banter!
After 43 miles, we arrived at our lunchtime venue, The World Peace Café & Buddhist Centre at Kilnwick Percy, though leaving the warmth of this lovely café was perhaps the nadir for me - every bone in my body ached, I was extremely saddle-sore and it had started to rain very heavily once more. The thought of 30 miles over Millington and Thixendale filled me with dread, but giving up was not an option.
The steep descent into Millington Dale unearths a beautiful secret valley, which never ceases to take my breath away. However, its sharp bends and wet surface almost got the better of Chris and Pete, who both took a tumble but managed to get back on their bikes and complete the route. Michelle wasn’t quite so lucky and parted company with her bike on the very same descent. She eventually completed the route in comfort and style in a silver Mercedes! She was bruised and battered but courageous to the end!
At 5.22pm precisely we completed our 146 mile journey and we all felt a mixture of relief and elation. We had met some lovely folk in some very beautiful parts of our region - a great achievement and a truly memorable experience that will definitely go into my memory treasure box.
Peter & Dylan Holdworth
Back in the summer of this year my 14 year old son Dylan and I, with stomachs full of flapjack, headed into a monsoon that marked the start of our 146 miles sponsored cycle ride for Ryedale Special Families. Dylan was resolute from the start - not being worried about the prospect of riding under a deluge for the next two days! Water was encroaching on areas that just left me baffled as to how it was getting there! I persuaded Dylan that we needed to take shelter and we spent about an hour in a telephone box outside Sledmere and a kind Pub landlord took pity on us and gave us a very welcome cup of tea.
With the rain still pelting down we carried on with Dylan-like resolution, at the back of the field but pressing forward onto Humanby, where for the first time we could sense that possibly the rain was letting up but by then we were simply beyond caring about getting wet. We grabbed a bite to eat at the Co-op in Humanby and then caught up with two other cyclists. Then the rain stopped and the sun came out for the first time! At seven o clock after a further stop in Bridington for another drink, we arrived at the overnight halfway point at Hutton Cranswick, bringing up the rear to great applause. We had barely enough energy to enjoy the fantastic BBQ with David Swann and Anna Shannon entertaining the troops. Soon it was time to get the tent set up and settle down for the night.
After a great night's sleep we ventured on. I thought that this would be the hardest time but the second day for me was much better . The weather was pretty good and the route was great taking in some beautiful countryside and the historic town of Beverley. Cathie (Hallsworth) turned up at Market Weighton to give us further encouragement and before we knew it we were through Thixendale and on the road home. The final hill near Kirkham Abbey was cruel, but we managed it (without walking) and that was it . Rolling into Malton at about 4.30pm – yet more flapjack and then time to go home with several hundred pounds raised towards the charity.